Sudan Seeking to Raise $4 Billion for Eastern Development
Sudan aims to raise $4 billion from a conference in Kuwait this week to support its impoverished eastern region, presidential adviser Mostafa Osman Ismail said today.
“We want to achieve real development,” Ismail told reporters today in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. “Real development in eastern Sudan will not be achieved except through investing in eastern Sudan’s resources.”
The government aims to attract foreign investors for a set of projects, valued at $2 billion, that it will propose at a two-day conference in Kuwait starting Dec. 1, while $2 billion in loans and grants will be needed for short-term development in the region, Ismail said. In March, the Organization of the Islamic Conference raised $850 million of a targeted $2 billion for development in western Sudan.
Authorities pledged to eradicate poverty and develop the region in a 2006 peace agreement it signed with rebels from Eastern Sudan, who were accusing the government of marginalizing the region. The region hosts nearly 80,000 registered refugees from Sudan’s eastern neighbors, mainly Eritrea, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Fifty eight percent of the population in the eastern Red Sea state and 50 percent of the population of Gedarif state live below the national poverty line of 148 Sudanese pounds ($61.92) per month, according to the UNDP. More than 60 percent of people in Kassala, also in the east, do not have access to clean drinking water.
Projects to be showcased in Kuwait cover the agriculture, food and vegetable processing, livestock, fisheries, tourism, and real estate industries, Claudio Caldarone, UNDP’s country director, said in a telephone interview from Khartoum yesterday.
Industrial plants, including cement factories, will also be proposed, Caldarone said.
Grants and loans, to be requested mainly from Arab funds and countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, will be directed to poverty eradication and projects that cover basic needs such as infrastructure, Caldarone said.
“Although not so publicized,” poverty in the Red Sea and Gedarif states is “much higher” than in the semi- autonomous region of Southern Sudan, he said. “It is not only a region in need, it has big potential.
“Uncultivated arable land is enormous, which could attract investors,” he said. Other resources in the region include oil, natural gas, gold, marble and fisheries, he said.
Sudan is sub-Saharan Africa’s third-largest crude producer, pumping 490,000 barrels per day, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy. Up to 80 percent of Sudan’s crude is pumped in its semi-autonomous region of Southern Sudan, which is set to vote on Jan. 9 on whether to form an independent nation.
The referendum is a key component of a 2005 peace accord that ended a two-decade civil war between Sudan’s Muslim north and the south, where Christianity and traditional beliefs dominate. About 2 million people died in the conflict and more than 4 million were displaced.
“I am sure investors would like to see how things are going in the next couple of months,” Caldarone said. “If the forecast for a peaceful referendum is confirmed, I am sure their interest will be even higher.”
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